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Taliban Country

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Taliban Country

Published 2004

Away from the glare of the media, in the most remote and dangerous parts of Afghanistan, U.S. marines are on a mission to hunt down the Taliban. But in many places their security sweeps are proving counterproductive. More and more villagers are alleging they have been abused by marines.

Carmela Baranowskas Taliban Country is a rare and damning insight into what U.S. forces are doing in remote Afghanistan. For three weeks, Carmela was embedded with the U.S. Marines in their remote forward operating Base.

Suspicious of what was really happening, Carmela later became the only person in 2004 to return and independently cover this area. She was reported kidnapped by the Taliban but the source of reports of an abandoned vehicle and Taliban abduction of a Western woman have never been uncovered.

Carmela obtained disturbing testimony from local villagers, some of which echo the sexual abuse documented at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Naval Base.

They fingered us, beat us and humiliated us, alleges villager Wali Mohammad. No Muslim should suffer that. He claims he was imprisoned for three days by the marines after soldiers raided his village and accused him of providing food and shelter to Al Qaeda. His elderly father, Noor Mohammad Lala, was also arrested. They took my clothes. I could not do anything, Noor confides. Both men claim they were sexually abused and forced to pose for photographs. I was so humiliated I couldnt see for my pain, states Noor.

The marines raid on their village of Passau was so offensive that locals want the camera to record every indiscretion. They used this as a toilet, says one man gesturing at the floor of a home. Their wheat harvest was destroyed and the mosque door battered down. As a result of this raid, many people have already left the village. Almost all the families are gone, complains the tribal elder bitterly. Our people are being forced to pack up and leave.

Stories of abuse have tainted the U.S. militarys entire efforts in this region. A few weeks after the raid, Major Alva Cook, Head of Civic Operations, visited the area with gifts of medicine, seeds and a radio. He asked if we needed anything, recalls the village elder. And I said Dont humiliate us.

For the villagers, the actions of the marines allies are as much to be feared as raids by the marines themselves. Local warlord Jan Mohammad has allied with the marines to hunt down the Taliban. But villagers claim that he is exploiting his new American connections to harass villages which belong to a different tribe. Their tribe, in their areas, have never been searched, one man complains. His friend claims that Mohammads men recently beat and imprisoned several young children in an attempt to gain information.

Ironically, as well as searching for Taliban and Al Qaeda members, the marines are also on a hearts and minds campaign to convince the locals the Americans are their friends. During an earlier raid, Major Alva Cook apologised to tribal elders for the extra dust their vehicles have kicked up. He also provides medical assistance while soldiers crack jokes with local militias about the surrounding poppy fields.

But if the aim of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is to remove the Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants and allow the country to embrace true democracy, they clearly still have a long way to go. In this remote corner of the country they are turning the local people against them. Some are being driven to join what remains of the Taliban. As the village leader summed up Enough is enough . These Americans must be accountable to someone.

Taliban Country, in addition to winning the Walkley Prize, will be recognized at the International Festival of Biarritz. The broadcast of the documentary on Australian television has led to two U.S. military investigations.

Run time 18 min. each
Producer Carmela Baranowska
Production Company Carmela Baranowska
Audio/Visual sound, color
Contact Information


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Reviewer: 3was - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 18, 2013
Subject: yes this is what it's like
this is pretty much what i suspected the u.s and nato troops were doing in Afganistan, Iraq, and all the other places they invade. i never really did buy the fact that u.s and nato troops were there to hand out candy, or "help the locals", as they claim. the fact that there are u.s troops coming on this website to complain about the video just goes to show how guilty they really are. i personally know alot of ex cons who are in the u.s and nato forces, and i find it hard to believe that they are doing dodgy stuff on the streets, but all of a sudden cleaned up their act on the battlefield. i know some real decent soldiers too, kinds that really protect the weak, but there is definitely evil being done by western troops that the corporate media is covering up. it also doesnt help that the governments of the u.s and europe are thoroughly corrupt, but it doesnt matter how sweet the troops were before they went into the military. give it time, and the u.s and nato military will turn normal people into murderers. you watch the movie full metal jacket, and it isnt that far off from reality. private pile goes from being a normal guy into a psycho. except in reality, private pile doesnt turn the gun on himself, and instead takes out their agresion on the "hajis".
Reviewer: LTC 27 - favorite - September 29, 2010
Subject: LTC
Reviewer: drlmg - - July 23, 2010
Subject: LTC 27
I know this is for reviews but I know no other way to contact you.

I have not watched the program and after reading the reviews I am not sure I want to. Trashing or de-legitimizing Allied troops..... I won't even get into it, I am sure you know what I would say.

In your review you say "....I wish all of you could see my films.....". Where could I find out the names of these films? I would love to see them.

Thank You,

Reviewer: BabyfaceMcGill - favorite - June 15, 2009
Subject: Truth be told
I know Lt.Col Khan. He is an honorable man and an amazing Marine officer. Here is some truth on the film here. This lady filmed days worth of footage so you have to remember that the scenes she chose where chosen to show you only what she wanted you to see. For instance the parts that look like abuse of "prisoners" that was BLT 1/6 conducting medical exams on people who have never even met a Doctor befor. Oh yeah, they were horrible to the Afghanies by diggin wells in towns where people spent half a day just retrieving water. It is unimaginable to people who have had running water there entire life. Noone does their job better then the Marines!
Reviewer: sissyhana - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 4, 2009
Subject: Disgraced
I totally feel for those afghanis. Oh my god. On the other hand, enjoyed the otherwise never seen views of the land. and dare I say it? The men are very good looking.
Reviewer: Telephone Toughguy - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 7, 2007
Subject: Anal finguring is not torture
At least that is what Tito&Smokehead told me. Carry on digital explorers.

I expected to hear Wayloin Gentile doing some killer Taliban fiddling, but whatever you rectal ambassadors are into, just keep it clean.
Reviewer: The_Viewer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 7, 2007
Subject: US Marine Corp. - Anal Fixation?
Why did the Marines finger the anuses of the old men and women? Was that being being perverse or was there some security issue? I can say that after seeing these videos as an American I would like to appologize to the Afghan people for the actions of my government and the US Marine Corp. Please know that here in America most of us DO NOT support this type of behaivior and would like it to stop.
Reviewer: US Marine - favorite - May 24, 2007
Subject: The worst reporting to date
I stumbled upon this disgusting piece while searching for articles about Lt Col Khan. I am a former member of 1/6 and proud to say I served with the finest Battalion Commander, Lt Col Khan. I have served 2 tours in Afghanistan. I am appauled with Ms. Baranowska's reporting of the Afghan War. She has written lies, deceitful comments, and propaganda for Taliban / Al Qaeda sympathizers. People like her need to stay out of the war, unless she is willing to pick up a gun and fight with us, which she's not. Writing crap like she does only enforces my low opinion of people like her who take their liberties for granted. Having fought in Afghanistan and seen first hand the positive effects we create for the Afghan people, it pains me to see such disgusting reporting that focus on one persons perception and incomplete comprehension of the facts. Ms. Baranowska needs to find another occupation, like underwater basket-weaving.
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